Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com
I don’t live in the U.S. I’m European and, apart from having family in the U.S. and a lot of friends I hold dear, I’m not really impacted by what happens in these elections. Or so it seems.
The news coverage about the U.S. elections here is crazy. There are reporters up all night, there are constant updates, every news channel chooses this topic over any other. We don’t see this kind of reporting on any other international election. National elections are the only ones that can compete in terms of news coverage.
So why are many of us so invested in the results? Why should we care which of these older, white males moves into the White House?
The reasons I care are not just bound to my personal situation. I know that the direct effects on my life will be tiny. The main reason we should care is that this super power of a nation seems to be a really interesting barometer for how the rest of the world is doing socially and economically.
This gap between the Republicans and the Democrats is not just limited to the U.S. There is a very real gap in understanding between groups in our own societies as well. We see these strong ideological differences pop up world-wide, and we see the Trumpian style of communicating echoed in politics on a global level.
How did we get so divided? Have we always had these two tendencies of conservatism and liberalism fighting each other?
I believe part of the reason for the growing of this divide is that we’ve stopped meeting those who think differently. Many of us don’t watch the news anymore, or watch a channel that offers us the news seasoned to our own palate. We are guided by Youtube and facebook algorithms to content that confirm our opinions, and rarely challenges them. We get so many takes on facts that we kind of forget where the truth really lies.
I don’t really have answers for this widening chasm. I don’t have the ultimate answer for how to bring us closer together again. I only know how to bridge the gap on a personal level, and that is by listening to each other.
Understanding why Trump may be the right choice for one person, and Biden for another, is a first step to healing the divide. This means you don’t villify the other side but understand that they may share many of your values, but just choose different strategies to meet them.
When we stop listening to a group of people, it is easy to lose sight of their humanity. It has happened countless times in history before, and it happens all the time as I write this. From the Holocaust, to the treatment of people living on the street, to how women were hunted down as witches…, as soon as a person is referred to as anything other than ‘a person’, we get the opportunity to distance ourselves from our common nature. Retoric is a tool for dehumanizing men, women and children.
So let’s not talk about those ‘Trump-voters’ or ‘Biden-hippies’, the winners or the losers, the conservatives and the liberals. Let us instead look at each person in all of their complexity. Let us learn what they do, where they live and whom they love.
Perhaps then we won’t want to dehumanize them for what they think.